Years ago, my son came home from school and told me proudly that he’d poured chocolate milk over his Lucky Charms for breakfast that morning in the school cafeteria.
You can imagine the smoke that came out of my ears when I heard that.
That was the last time I let him eat in the cafeteria.
Our school offers a free breakfast for every elementary and intermediate aged child in the district. The kids don’t have to go to school early to have it, it’s built into the school day. And while I know the intentions behind it are good, because, sadly, there are some kids in our small town who go hungry, and that often the school’s hands are tied due to government regulations. But this is just a big ‘ol mess.
Take a look at one of the breakfast menus. I’ve highlighted everything that turns to sugar when it hits those kids’ bodies.Turns to sugar! As you can see, that’s pretty much the whole shebang. They’re fed this junk and then expected to perform? It’s not even fair.
Sure, there are some egg options, a few days with bacon or sausage. But what kid chooses eggs over breakfast strudel? Or sausage and fruit over cereal with crackers (what?)?. Evidently not my kid! And probably not too many others either. They go for the sugar jugular. Bread, syrup, and puffy colored cereal. And the milk. Oh the milk. See the options here? 1% or fat free (chocolate or strawberry flavored). Ever seen a cow with a 1% udder? A strawberry udder? The more you mess with the way God made it, the more it messes up the body. Lowfat milk options are terrible for children. For pretty much anybody. (see this article and this study for more info).
Here’s what happens when kids eat this stuff – this processed, preserved, artificially colored, flavored, low-fat franken-food. It spikes their blood sugar when it hits their little bodies. Hard and fast. Most people think only cake and cookie type foods do that. But the truth is, your body recognizes all carbohydrates as sugar. And the more bready (even whole grain), processed, and sugary they are, the quicker and more intensely it will send the blood sugar soaring. Vegetables turn to sugar energy in the body too, but in a very slow way thanks to the nutrients and the fiber. Most of these breakfast options ain’t got nothin’ to offer. Not one nutrient to boost our children’s brain power. No healthy protein or fat to keep their energy levels steady so that they can sit and focus for the next 8 hours of the day. Because once those blood sugar levels spike, they crash equally as hard. Usually at, oh, around 9 or 10 in the morning. Where is your baby around then? Math? Reading? Science? Does he get in trouble for fidgeting? Does she get in trouble because she can’t keep her eyes focused on the teacher? What your child has for breakfast (and lunch too) has so much to do with how they behave in the classroom. Sometimes blood sugar dysregulation can be misinterpreted as ADHD symptoms. The highs and lows, the inability to sit and focus…much of that can be attributed to the food (or non-food) circulating in their wee little bodies.
There’s a whole inner body chemistry going wonky in our kids when they start their days with a sugar-spiking breakfast. There are organs and glands trying desperately to even out the blood sugar levels to keep the body from going into crisis mode. All while your child is sitting in the classroom trying to learn how to read. Trying to learn fractions. It makes me want to cry when I think how hard they are trying despite the turmoil their bodies are under.
I feed my kids breakfast at home and then send them with something to school so that they don’t have to sit next to their peers who are eating Fruit Loops and pancakes and have nothing to eat.
This is about the time you’re saying…But I don’t have time to make and feed my kids breakfast in the morning! It’s crazy at my house!
I get it. Mornings are crazy at my house too. Most of the time I prepare breakfast the night before…when I’m cooking dinner…so that I can heat it up quickly in the morning. We pretty much stick to the same things during the week:
Scrambled eggs with bacon/sausage and a side of fruit
These homemade waffles (made with almond butter, an apple, and a banana)
Homemade muffins with a side of bacon or sausage
Hard-boiled eggs with a side of fruit or bacon/sausage
Gluten-free toast spread with nut butter and chopped banana
You can make almost all of this ahead of time and have it ready to go in the morning. I know time is tight and kids are picky. But if we want our kids to perform to their potential, we have to fuel them up for success. #truth